MIAMI — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh walked off the floor together after Game 3 of the NBA Finals, and were immediately wrapped up in conversation as they strolled to the Miami Heat locker room.
Their talk had nothing to do with Game 3.
Turns out, the Heat "Big Three" were already working on their plans for Game 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder by going over what had just happened while it was fresh in their minds. Television cameras captured the three players side-by-side on that walk, a far cry from the images of how they left the floor anguished after losing the finals last season.
The series resumes in Miami on Tuesday night, with the Heat holding a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven title matchup.
"We all got caught up in the lights and the negativity last year," Bosh said. "We let that take away our energy away from focusing on what we needed to focus on. This year we're just being ourselves. We're coming and competing. We're playing the best basketball and we're just having confidence in our game. We're good enough. We're good enough to win it. We were good enough last year. We just had too many letdowns."
So they're trying to avoid those this time around, which is why they're going over things as diligently as ever.
"They made an adjustment how they (were) playing us throughout the game, and immediately we talked about what we have to do to kind of (make) that adjustment as three guys that are going to have the ball in their hand most of the time," Wade said. "Just that conversation right there, but also working our brains and our minds already before we go watch to film to see and to know, this is what we felt."
The talk-it-out approach isn't something only going on in one locker room in this series.
Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins — who won a championship with the Boston Celtics — made sure some of the younger players in the Thunder locker room knew that being down 2-1 is far from the end of the world.
Much like the Heat trio, Perkins thinks there can't be enough positive energy at this time of year.
"I know it's got to be in the back of their mind that we've got to win this game or something to that nature," Perkins said Monday. "But I told guys after the game last night that we're going to approach Game 4 that we're not going to look at the scoreboard, see who is in the lead or not. We're just going to play hard for 48 minutes, play basketball, and go from there."
HARDEN'S STRUGGLES: The league's best sixth man this season isn't among the six best scorers so far in these NBA Finals.
James Harden knows that needs to change in a hurry for Oklahoma City.
Harden shot 2 for 10 from the floor in Game 3, and is at 11 for 27 in the series. He scored 21 points in Game 2, but only five points in Game 1 and was held to nine in Game 3, when the Thunder wasted a 10-point lead against the Miami Heat to fall behind 2-1 in the title matchup.
"I thought defensively he was good," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "There's going to be nights that you're not going to make your shots. He had a great shooting night the game before. He had a rough shooting night. He just has to come back with the same amount of confidence that he always does, and hopefully he has a better shooting night."
Harden was undeterred Monday as he answered questions about everything from his shooting to his defense against Miami's LeBron James to the now-daily questions about the future plans for his beard. (He's still growing it out.)
The way he saw it, Game 3 was there for the taking, and another break or two along the way would have given the Thunder the series lead again.
"A couple mistakes, a couple missed free throws, not necessarily turnovers, but a couple possessions, we fouled two 3-point shooters, and it's a different ballgame," Harden said. "They made six free throws and we missed six free throws in that time span, so that's a 12-point difference, and that's the game right there."
Harden is averaging 11.7 points in the series, third-best on the Thunder behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. For Miami, James (30.3), Dwyane Wade (22.7), Shane Battier (14.3) and Chris Bosh (12.0) are scoring more so far in the series than Harden.
SOCIAL NUMBERS: The NBA announced Monday that other than the United States and China, it's the Philippines topping the list of countries following the league on Facebook and Twitter.
No surprise there, of course — Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is proud of his Filipino heritage.
The NBA said it has 278 million fans following through social media worldwide. For Facebook, the Philippines is followed by Turkey, Indonesia, Mexico and France, while on Twitter the countries checking in second through fifth are Indonesia, Brazil, the United Kingdom and India.
Spoelstra smiled Monday when told of the numbers in his mother's homeland.
"They root for us," Spoelstra said. "When we're over there during the summer, they are. It's great to see. I had my family over here last night from the Philippines. The one thing about the Philippines is they are rabid basketball fanatics, and it's been that way for a while. They've been following us now for the last couple years, as well."Comment on this story
NOTES: Only six teams in NBA Finals history have lost Game 1 of the title series and then swept the next four. ... Derek Fisher's four-point play for Oklahoma City in Game 3 was the 12th in finals history, the league said. Fisher now has 45 career 3-pointers in finals games, three shy of matching Kobe Bryant for second-most. Robert Horry made 56. ... Miami is 2-11 this season when shooting 40 percent or worse in a game. Both wins — against the Thunder. The Heat shot 38 percent in their Game 3 win in the finals Sunday night, and 37 percent in a 98-93 home victory on April 4.
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